Friday’s Headlines: In Haiti, Despair Giving Way to Anger
Despair has begun to give way to anger in Haiti, as countless victims of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake awoke Friday still waiting on humanitarian aid that continues to be slowed by a broad array of complications.
Even as the first U.S. Navy ship, the USS Higgins, arrived Thursday, as well as transport planes from China and Belgium, frustration built throughout the island nation. Relatively minor injuries are proving fatal, and the threat of disease outbreaks is escalating.
“Nobody, nobody has come,” quake survivor Serge Jean told the Wall Street Journal. “We see a lot of people dying,” he said. “A lot of kids dying.”
The Red Cross has estimated as many as 50,000 people have died as result of the magnitude-7.0 quake. Haitian officials have said the ultimate death toll could be twice as high. On Thursday, the nation’s president, Rene Preval, said 7,000 people had already been buried in a mass grave.
Survivors “are slowly getting more angry,” David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Haiti, told the New York Times. “We are all aware of the fact that the situation is getting more tense.”
Looters have broken into a U.N. food warehouse in the crumbling capital of Port-au-Prince, a spokeswoman for the organization told the Associated Press. The U.N. World Food Program had 15,000 tons of food stored in Haiti prior to this week’s quake, but spokeswoman Emilia Casella said it was unclear how much has been taken.
The U.N. announced it is launching an emergency appeal on Friday for approximately $550 million to help survivors. So far, the U.S. has committed $100 million to the rescue effort.
“You will not be forsaken,” President Barack Obama promised Haiti as he announced the pledge, which will be spearheaded by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Meantime, aid continues to trickle in to the island amid logistical challenges. The airport has reopened after heavy traffic shut down the tarmac Thursday, and the U.S. government said Cuba has granted it permission to fly through restricted airspace on medical evacuation flights.
Additionally, more than 300 U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived overnight, and others arrived on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson a high-ranking U.S. Army officer told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
We’ll have continuing coverage of the quake and its aftermath all day here on the site, as well as on tonight’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour. Stay tuned. And for readers looking to contribute to relief efforts, here are a few organizations collecting donations.